The city of Bellevue offers a beautiful combination of temperate winters in town, alongside stunning, snowy mountain views. While you can enjoy the quality dining, shopping and exploring of the city during the winter months, spending time in Bellevue also means ample access to snow sports. If you’re a fan of snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, or you want to give winter sports a try, Bellevue’s surrounding mountains may be calling your name.
Summit Nordic Center at The Summit at Snoqualmie
One of the most well-known Nordic areas in the region, the Summit Nordic Center boasts a network of 43 miles of manicured cross-country skiing trails with routes for beginners through experts. Less than an hour along Interstate 90 from Bellevue, this is one of the most easy-to-access Nordic centers in the area. Rentals are available for both classic and skate skis, as well as snowshoes. You’ll need to visit the lodge for a trail ticket, which is specific to skiing or snowshoeing. (Snowshoe trails are more limited.) Kids under the age of 6 get a free pass, so bring the whole family.
Gold Creek Pond
At just 49 minutes from Bellevue, the Gold Creek Pond trailhead is just down the road from the Summit Nordic Center parking lot and allows both cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. A 2.8-mile roundtrip with negligible elevation gain makes this one of the best options for beginner snowshoers or kids, with access to nearby rentals at the Snoqualmie Summit Nordic Center. The Forest Service provides guided trips through this area for a $10 suggested donation with snowshoe rentals included, making for a great deal with a private tour. This trail will give you glimpses of everything from beaver dams and frozen rivers to stunning views of the Central Cascades. Make sure to bring your WA State Sno Park permit.
One of the more difficult trails on our list, the payoff for 2,600 feet of elevation gain on Hex Mountain is a stunning 360-degree view of the Central Cascades with Mt. Rainier, the Enchantments, and Cle Elum Lake in the panorama. At seven miles roundtrip, this trek (which is about a 90-minute drive from Bellevue) is not for kids or beginners. You may ski or snowshoe, with the added bonus of not needing a parking pass or entry fee. The designated parking area is small, though, so you’ll want to arrive early.
Cabin Creek Sno Park
Cabin Creek Sno Park is unique in that it’s run by a non-profit called the Kongsberger Ski Club which promotes, maintains, and protects winter sports in the area. Like the Summit Nordic Center, access to this park is right off of Interstate 90 and less than an hour’s drive from Bellevue. A large parking lot, outdoor toilets, and a place to buy a Sno Park pass make for a very easy experience, but you will need to bring your own skis or snowshoes. 21 miles of groomed trails range from beginner to advanced levels.
Nordic Center at Stevens Pass
Most locals know about the downhill and backcountry ski routes at Stevens Pass. But just five miles down the road from the main lodge sits the Nordic Center at Stevens Pass, with a goldmine of cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails. Ranging from beginner to advanced trails, the Nordic Center has 19 miles of trails for skiing and 6 miles of designated snowshoe trails. You’ll only need a Northwest Forest Pass to use the trails but amenities are limited; restaurants, gear, and flush toilets can be found back at the main ski area at Stevens Pass.
Plain Valley Ski Trails
North of the Bavarian-themed town of Leavenworth is Plain Valley Ski Trails, a well-maintained snow park with 16 miles of groomed ski trails and 4 miles of snowshoe routes. At two hours from Bellevue, it is a little further afield than some of the other options, but it’s worth the trip for a trek through the pristine Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. Similar to larger operations, a season pass or day pass is required to use the trails. But with this pass comes the benefits of easy parking, manicured paths, and proximity to Leavenworth for a warm lunch after your adventure.
Crystal Mountain Bullion Basin
Also about two hours from Bellevue, the Bullion Basin trail system, managed by Crystal Mountain Resort, provides extensive, snowshoe-only trails with the amenities of the main resort close by. Rentals are available at the Crystal Mountain Resort main lodge and the trails range from hard climbs to flat, groomed paths.
Skyline Trail and Panorama Point at Mount Rainier National Park
No list of Pacific Northwest adventures would be complete without a mention of Mount Rainier National Park, which offers many options for both cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. While the park lies a little over two-and-a-half hours from Bellevue, the views are well worth the drive. Skyline Trail is one of the more well-known trekking routes in the area; it leaves out of the Paradise Lodge parking lot and gives both skiers and snowshoers multiple options for approaching or customizing this amazing trail system. Ranging from around three to six miles roundtrip to Panorama Point, and offering moderate to challenging difficulty levels, on a clear day, you’ll get a full view of Mount Rainier no matter where you’re walking. A National Park annual or day pass is required and there are no rentals in the town of Paradise itself, but they are available throughout the season at Longmire General Store on the way into the park.
From day trips to long weekends, Bellevue offers incredible access to all sorts of winter sports in the most beautiful Pacific Northwest locations. It’s time to gear up and get out there.